WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Presidential Executive Order aimed at collection and enforcement of antidumping and countervailing duties, as well as enforcement of violations of U.S. trade and customs law, was issued yesterday by the White House. 
 
The order notes that as of May 2015, $2.3 billion in antidumping and countervailing duties were owed the U.S., "often from importers that lack assets located in the United States." The order says the government will impose "appropriate bonding requirements" on entries of articles subject to antidumping and countervailing duties. 
 
The United Steel Workers responded favorably to the announcement, noting a Chinese entity has been accused of trying to evade standing orders on aluminum products by using Mexico, and now Vietnam, as a staging area for raw material. "Billions of dollars of products and countless American jobs are at risk because of these kinds of spurious actions," the union said. 
 
A challenge in the strategy lies ahead for firms such as Ashley Furniture, with a plant in China, or Stanley Furniture, which recently opened a manufacturing site in Vietnam. These firms, and others which manufacture in multiple continents, could see duties imposed or even blocking of imported goods.
 
The U.S. wood manufacturing industry is of two minds on the matter, with the American Alliance for Hardwood Plywood, the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association and its members opposing recent efforts by domestic plywood manufacturers, represented by the Hardwood Plywood Coalition, to block Chinese plywood imports. The Commerce Department recently agreed to investigate Chinese dumping  - selling at below cost of manufacture - of plywood in the U.S. market. The Hardwood Plywood Coalition also brought an emergency request to stop plywood being rushed to U.S. ports prior to an enforcement period. 
 
The Coalition for Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood officially filed a petition on Nov. 17, 2016, claiming imports of hardwood plywood products from China are being sold into the U.S. below cost to gain an unfair competitive advantage. The U.S. imported approximately $1.1 billion worth of Chinese hardwood and decorative plywood in 2015, according to Commerce Department figures - about half of total plywood sold in the U.S. 
 
The order, issued March 31, 2017, reads as follows:
 
ESTABLISHING ENHANCED COLLECTION AND ENFORCEMENT OF
ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTIES AND VIOLATIONS
OF TRADE AND CUSTOMS LAWS
 
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to promote the efficient and effective administration of United States trade laws, it is hereby ordered as follows:
 
Section 1.  Policy.  Importers that unlawfully evade antidumping and countervailing duties expose United States employers to unfair competition and deprive the Federal Government of lawful revenue.  As of May 2015, $2.3 billion in antidumping and countervailing duties owed to the Government remained uncollected, often from importers that lack assets located in the United States.  It is therefore the policy of the United States to impose appropriate bonding requirements, based on risk assessments, on entries of articles subject to antidumping and countervailing duties, when necessary to protect the revenue of the United States.
 
Sec. 2.  Definitions.  For the purposes of this order:
 
(a)  the term "importer" has the meaning given in section 4321 of title 19, United States Code; and
 
(b)  the term "covered importer" means any importer of articles subject to antidumping or countervailing duties for which one of the following is true:  U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has no record of previous imports by the importer; CBP has a record of the importer's failure to fully pay antidumping or countervailing duties; or CBP has a record of the importer's failure to pay antidumping or countervailing duties in a timely manner.
 
Sec. 3.  Implementation Plan Development.  Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Commerce, and the United States Trade Representative, develop a plan that would require covered importers that, based on a risk assessment conducted by CBP, pose a risk to the revenue of the United States, to provide security for antidumping and countervailing duty liability through bonds and other legal measures, and also would identify other appropriate enforcement measures.  This plan shall be consistent with the requirements of section 4321 and section 1623 of title 19, United States Code, and corresponding regulations.
 
Sec. 4.  Trade and Suspected Customs Law Violations Enforcement.  (a)  Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Homeland Security, through the Commissioner of CBP, shall develop and implement a strategy and plan for combating violations of United States trade and customs laws for goods and for enabling interdiction and disposal, including through methods other than seizure, of inadmissible merchandise entering through any mode of transportation, to the extent authorized by law.
 
(b)  To ensure the timely and efficient enforcement of laws protecting Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) holders from the importation of counterfeit goods, the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall take all appropriate steps, including rulemaking if necessary, to ensure that CBP can, consistent with law, share with rights holders:
 
(i)   any information necessary to determine whether there has been an IPR infringement or violation; and
 
(ii)  any information regarding merchandise voluntarily abandoned, as defined in section 127.12 of title 19, Code of Federal Regulations, before seizure, if the Commissioner of CBP reasonably believes that the successful importation of the merchandise would have violated United States trade laws.
 
Sec. 5.  Priority Enforcement.  The Attorney General, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall develop recommended prosecution practices and allocate appropriate resources to ensure that Federal prosecutors accord a high priority to prosecuting significant offenses related to violations of trade laws.
 
Sec. 6.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
 
 (i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or 
 
 (ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
 
(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
 
(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
 
 
DONALD J. TRUMP
 
THE WHITE HOUSE,
March 31, 2017.